The Vision of Escaflowne: The Movie

Alt title: Tenkuu no Escaflowne: The Movie

Movie (1 ep x 95 min)
3.507 out of 5 from 7,524 votes
Rank #6,061

Hitomi wanted to just disappear from her life. The track club -- her best friend -- her parents -- she wanted it all to just...go away. While contemplating suicide, her wish is fulfilled by an unlikely savior: a man named Folken who brings her to his world, Gaea, to unlock the powers of the legendary Dragon, Escaflowne. But there are those who would stop at nothing to foil his plans, and chief among them is Van, the last warrior of a noble clan. Caught up in this epic struggle, Hitomi must find herself before she can find a way home.

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StoryI've always had a certain aversion for series-based movies. It never fails that the movie would be a waste of time; more often than not, it's nothing more than an elongated version of any given episode of the series. The Escaflowne movie doesn't really fall into this trap. Oh, it's a waste of time, but because the series had no fillers, it would have been quite difficult to make such a movie. Instead, it's a miniscule recap of the series events, an alternate reality version in which the characters are stripped (and in a certain case I mean this literally) to unrecognizable proportions and the story is undermined in a ninety minute nutshell. Although a lot of material is crammed into such a short time, the story itself is not completely irredeemable. As a summary, it works fine (but only if you're familiar with the background to begin with) and I enjoyed some of the twists taken. For example, this movie is considerably more violent than the series ever was and the first five minutes is the best scene in the entire work. I don't know the reason for the amount of bloodshed, but I'm not going to complain about it either. Fight scenes are actually relatively exciting. I also enjoyed the liberties taken with Dilandau and Folken, but more on that later. The movie is a lot of things, but boring isn't one of them.My problem with the story lies in the very core, mainly with Hitomi being the so-called Wing Goddess. This part of the story reads very much like some amateur writing a fan-fiction while ignoring important facts individualistic to the work. A big part of Escaflowne is questioning the existence of fate. Making Hitomi the "chosen one" who holds the fate of the world in her hands would have been fine... had this movie not contradicted itself with that very premise. X TV does this exact same thing, but was successful. The key difference is that Kamui struggled with his role and tries to beat the odds while Hitomi just sits around looking stupid, hoping things will turn out okay. After all is said and done, I feel that she had little impact at all and I wonder why she was given such an important title. The ending is also very poorly done and is a contradiction because it breaks an anime golden rule. I blame this not on length (I've seen many a movie-or short OVA-that managed to be good) but on poor direction.AnimationThe animation, being four years younger than the series, is excellent. There is a lot of detail given to the towns and other surroundings. There's a particularly gorgeous sequence when Hitomi is summoned to the other world. She's in a pool of water and the moon is looming in front of her. Good stuff. Oh, and the movie is not exactly shy with blood. Torture scenes and mecha battles are well-animated. :) The character designs are wildly different than the series. Millerna, for example, is completely unrecognizable. Van went to the gym, Hitomi got a makeover, and Folken decided to grow his hair out. On the most part, I like the new character designs and thought some of them (i.e., Hitomi and Allen) were improved from the series. And they got rid of those damn noses.... SoundIt was smart to use the same songs that were in the series. I got to listen to more of that ethereal monk-music. Escaflowne is one of the very few series that can actually get away with such music playing during a mecha scene. Voice acting is above average. I noticed that Van's voice was much deeper this time around. CharactersI've said (in my review for the series) that the supporting cast was weak and that's certainly true. In ninety minutes, the characters certainly cannot be improved upon; therefore, this movie had only two choices: one is to do the smart thing and get rid of the supporting cast all together. The other is to simply keep them despite that they can only be paler than they were before. Escaflowne movie takes the second route and certain characters are given cameo appearances and then discarded.  For example, the two cat girls are given about a minute as singers in a tavern and Dryden is reduced even further as the owner of that tavern. The exceptions to this rule are Dilandau and Folken. Dilandau is just as insane (if not more so) as he was when I first saw him. Just about every scene with him almost makes up for everything else. Folken, in my not so humble opinion, is better than he was in the series because he's a lot less ambiguous. He's the villain here and he's not going to apologize for it. The two main characters follow the same pattern as the aforementioned supporting cast. Van, who now takes steroids and decided to tattoo his body, doesn't have much meaningful dialogue. In a nutshell, Van is the "silent, strong, and lonely" type merely because it's in the script. Hitomi is even worse. As a result of the shallowness, I found the relationship between Van and Hitomi to be contrived, forced, and fake. OverallEscaflowne is a popular series and I have a very good idea of why this was made. The creators probably thought fans would enjoy seeing their favorite characters in new clothing and seeing them in similar situations. Although I enjoyed this anime more than I did the first time (I owe this to the fact that it's been a while since I've seen the series), true art doesn't work that way; and as a result, the movie feels less like an interesting abbreviation and more like a fan-fiction gone awry.


Im always very sad when I see a product that has awesome production values and creativity in the worlddesign, but that just cant be bothered to tell a good story and/or have well developed characters. Origins and Brave story had this problem, and now I can add Escaflowne the movie to this list. A few years ago I watched the Escaflowne tv series and fell in love with it. Naturally I wanted to try out the movie, but I dropped it very fast after discovering how much the characters where altered in a bad way. But since a few years are passed now and the tv series isnt that present in my mind anymore, I thought I give it another shot as a stand alone project. But it still wasnt very good. The problem is that it alters characters from the series beyond recognition (The positive Hitomi bacame a depressive and passive Hitomi in this incarnation; Van is almost an animal, lusting for the blood of his enemies, Folken is a stock villain), but at the same time tries to include to much from the series, so that it is cluttered with too many useless characters and names. As much as I like Alan, Merle and Dryden; if they are not going to be importent for this short story just exclude them, and focus on developing the central couple. The Van/Hitomi relationship is totally unbelievable as it is and Van's development from raging murderer to nice guy comes from nowhere. The central theme; that two lonely and pained people can reach each other and heal eachother can be powerfull; but the dialog is so wooden and hasted that we just cant be bordered. And it is hard to sympathise with Hitomi because it never becomes clear why she feels this way and doesnt have many other redeeming qualities and Van doesnt have much character beside being angry. We just have to trust Merle's word on it that he is nicer than he looks. The story is the same; its pretty simple at heart, but tries to do too many things at too little time and isn't very wellwritten at that. It tells you a lot insted that it shows. The last scene just adds insult to injury; a very minor character who has a motivation that wasnt hinted at before, does something that changes everyhing and the movie suddenly tries to convince us that Folken wasnt always that bad, even denying the movie a cliched but at least slightly sadisfying 'Good vs Bad' ending. Now what ís impressive are the production values; at times this movie simply looks stunning. The scenery is very imaginative, with floating cities, enormoues skyships, and eyed moon and all the cities that we get glimpses of have a own detailed style with influence from East and West. It is a world I would love to spend more time in; to see more stories about. Escaflowne itself has a more organic look to it and its transformation scenes are gorgeous to behold. Characters are a bit more mudane but also quite nice and they move and turn realisticly. I wasn't really a fan of how some of the male eyes where drawn (especially Allans) but that is a minor detail. Add to all that the beautifull soundtrack of Yoko Kanno that suited every scene like a glove and that moved me to tears at times, and you have something that scores soaringly high on the esthetics, but crashed down as soons as it tries to be more than pretty. In the end I did enjoy the movie somewhat for the production values, but I never seen a movie that shouts "Wasted potential!" harder than this one.

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